Medieval partisan struggles led bishops, who were sometimes more likely to carry a sword than a cross, to fortify their domain, in particular the Cathedral, which they surrounded with walkways and battlements which have now been turned into the balustrades you can see at the top of some of the facades. This is the case of the clock tower, which was built for defence purposes in the 14th century. The tower’s appearance today is light-hearted 17th-century Baroque. You can see the spheres and the bells of the clock from which it gets its name. The clock was made in 1831, and cost 90,000 reales at the time. The bell that strikes the hours is a copy of the famous Berenguela bell that fell and cracked. You can see it in the cloister. The bell weights 14 tonnes and can be heard 20 km away, making it one of the most powerful bells in the world. The clockmaker left a moral message engraved inside it for posterity:
Just as this machinery works with its movement uninterrupted, pushing forward the hours, allowing not the slightest divergence, so runs the life of man, until it is cut off by the powerful Fates. Oh mortals, learn to adjust your habits, lest the last day catch you off your guard…
You will see that the other tower has an exotic pyramid-shaped pinnacle with Eastern influences. This is known as the Treasure Tower, and it was built to one side of the cloister a century before the clock tower. If you look upwards to the left, you can see the top of the tower of La Vela, which is inspired by this one.
We shall now enter the Cathedral through this door, which leads to the south side of the transept.
(c) (R) 2013, MUSMon com S.L.
Text (a) Diego Laforga Marcos
Source: Own work
Author: Diego Laforga (2013)
Independently produced by MUSMon.com, the audio guide for the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela offers you a wide-ranging, light-hearted and educational tour of one of the most visited monuments in Spain. There are 90 minutes of commentary, illustrated with over 62 high-quality images, so you won’t miss a single detail during your visit.
Whether you are a pilgrim or a visitor, we will guide you on a journey through more than one thousand years of art and history, +info